Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Question the Second .2

"What you need to understand about Haruki Hatayama is that he was a child of privilege. His father is the feared Testuo Hatayama. Tetsuo built his fame and fortune by assassinating the last of the great world eaters, galaxy-sized, sentient fish that swam through space devouring whole systems. They were so massive, in fact, that they bent light around themselves and so, despite their size, their approach would be undetected until the entire system was gone. For thousands of years, the world eaters were the bane of all space fearing cultures.

"That is, until they ate Tetsuo Hatayama's world. At the time, he was a low level executive in Clan Platypus and, as such, had been selected to attend the annual smoke bomb conference in Lincoln, Nebraska. He chose a couple of promising looking models and then slipped out early. A snowstorm kept his interstellar cruiser from lifting off on time. He cursed and raved at the skies, but that snowstorm saved his life. He arrived back at home not three minutes after his galaxy had disappeared into the maw of the giant fish.

"Then and there, he swore he would have his revenge. He entered super-secret ninja training and taught his body to go without air, light or gravity for months on end. He hardened himself until his skin was like titanium and his bones were like cut diamonds. Then, he launched himself into space, naked but for the sword at his waist.

"Years he spent in those cold reaches, slingshotting around planets. Slowly, but steadily, he closed in on the planet eaters and, when he found one, he showed no mercy. He cared not to hear its cries for respite. He only needed their deaths. That time in the depths of space did something to Testuo. It made him cold and hard; nearly dead inside. In the end, he had eliminated the world eaters, to the elation of all space-faring cultures everywhere, but he had done it at the cost of his soul."

"Wow," I cut in. "That's some crazy talk goin on there. But I don't see how it's got nothin to do with us defeatin them ninjas." Boy howdy, I hate it when I'm expectin a straight answer and things end up gettin all twisted and weird. If I wanted to deal with that kinda steam-fudge, I'd watch the news.

"Nevertheless," the ghost army responded, "it is imperative you understand all this in order to defeat the Clan. And to understand that, when you choose to fight Haruki Hatayama, you are going up against an enemy of unimaginable power and a heartlessness rarely seen in the universe."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Question the Second .1

I scratched my head. "All right, then, my second question is; how do we defeat the ninjas and clear them off the planet?"

"That," said the ghost army arrayed before me, "is the correct question."

I blushed. "Well, thank ya kindly. I was rather proud of it."

"You're welcome," they responded, much more hospitable now that they had a sympathetic ear.

Then we waited in a kind of verbal Mexican standoff. I didn't feel I had much more to say on the subject, but they didn't seem like they was gonna be forthcoming with the information. But the whole thing was a lot more complicated, strategically speakin. For one, they had spoken last, so it was prolly my turn. But they left me in the position that my next phrase was likely to be a question; somethin like 'Y'all wanna give me that information now?' Sure, it would be a sarcastic question, but I couldn't risk them bein a bunch of literal jerks like all them genies in them dirty jokes Douggy's wife keeps tellin when she's had a touch too much wine. And it's like my pappy always used to tell me, if you can't say nothin nice, or you can't say nothin without gettin yourself trapped by some sorta verbal contract between you and a supernatural entity, it's best to say nothin at all.

I tried to get them started with some throat clearin. They responded in kind. Then I tried some beard scratchin. They came back with sniffin. I hit them back with a raised eyebrow. They came in heavy with a significant incline of the head. They had my back to a wall, both literally and figuratively, so there was only one option left to me. Don't judge me, I had no choice. I had to bring out the big guns.

I cocked the hammer and pulled the trigger on a, "Yep."

They were scrambling. They tried to rally with a weak, "Uh-huh."

I had them. It was a simple matter now of dealing the final blow. With a small, almost imperceptible nod, I gave them a knowing, "Mmmm," while wrinklin my eyebrows in thought.

They knew they were defeated. "Ok, ok!" yelled the ghost army. "No more! We'll tell you."

I just wish every contest could be as easy as a silence off. I been workin on winnin those since I was a kid. We'd go on long road trips and my pa would challenge Frank and I to the quiet game. In our final game, neither Frank nor I said a single word from the time I was 12 until I was 14. The school we went to worried about us and was fixin to put us in a special program when Frank, in order to fulfill her 'team activities' requirement was forced to join the debate team. I thanked my lucky stars that she'd signed up for her activity too late to get on the bowling team and, after her first debate was over, I gloated for weeks. Plus, that two years taught me a couple things. I learned how to communicate a whole bunch of stuff without ever resorting to more than a knowing nod. I also learned that language is an abstract construction that cultures implicitly agree to use in order to cement our societal rules and regulations, reinforcing norms and cultural assumptions on the very youngest members, therefore ensuring that our view of the world, or at least the communicable aspects of it, will be carried on in perpetuity. As such, language assures that cultures maintain themselves, for better or for worse, until language itself changes. And finally, I learned it's difficult to cover up farting when you're not making any sound.

"To defeat Clan Platypus on this planet, you will need to defeat the 13 sons," the ghosts explained. "And to defeat the 13 sons, you will need the staff of Haruki."

"That sounds like an interesting story," I told them. "Please continue."

"We shall. "The year was 1983," they began. "It was a great time to be a ninja. Clan Platypus was heavily invested in cocaine sales, and sales were good. They had been organizing things politically so that the economic boom would be concentrated amongst the rich, who were the only ones interested in buying cocaine. The poor were still killing the pain of being poor and cold and hungry all the time in the same way they always had; by drinking cheap beer and yelling at their families.

"It was into this high life atmosphere that the young necromancers graduated and began their careers. Being young in the 80's, they felt they could change the structure of how the Clan did business. Most of the young ones began by joining financial firms which, despite their utter lack of training, was made pretty easy through their families' political connections. Ten of the thirteen began working on a new type of economics, which combined money know how with dark magic.

"Their plan was to concentrate wealth at the very top. They sold this idea to all the people of the world saying that, by giving money to the top 5% of earners, those people would spend the money on goods and services, thereby allowing the money to trickle down into the economy. As ridiculous as this sounds, they sold it pretty well. However, being in the top 5% of earners themselves, they knew that rich people were the most against spending money. After all, one doesn't become wealthy by giving money away.

"Then, once money was taken from those who needed it most and given to those who needed it least, they would infiltrate the airwaves with shows about how rich people lived, making the poor jealous. They then used this jealousy to pass gambling legislation in a few states and expand state lottery operations around most of the country. The poor people were willing to go along with this because they felt it gave them a chance to live the lavish lifestyles they were seeing on TV every week, and the rich went along with it because it made them even richer. And, of course, it didn't hurt that the people passing the laws were amongst the top 5% themselves.

"Their final goal was far from economic, however. From the first, the new necromancers planned only to increase the surplus suffering in the world, because this suffering is where dark magicians get their power. They would then harvest this suffering and turn it into a sweet, sweet nectar. In the final step of their diabolical plan, they would inject this nectar into a new type of soda and sell it back to the people, creating a suffering feedback loop and expanding the people's capacity for suffering exponentially. They anticipated this final harvest would make them the most powerful necromancers in the known universe.

"Because their plan involved economics to increase suffering, they came up with a name for it; Voodoo economics. They began their work slowly and carefully, concentrating as much suffering as possible and distilling it in their labs. When they were ready, they made a test batch of their conceived soda. They combined the suffering with carbonated water and waited to see what happened. They became worried when the pure suffering turned their soda a radioactive green, but they pressed through and found that the color and its horrible, godless flavor appealed to the poor. Pleased with this development, they went into production and soon, all the world was inundated with Mountain Dew. It is made from and causes suffering.

"But there was a flaw in their plan. It was discovered by the three sons who had taken up other careers; Tetsuo Yamazaki, Ichiro Toei and Haruki Hatayama. What they did changed the very nature of the world."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Question the First

"Question the first," I began, "What the heck are y'all? You were like a dragon, but now you're a bunch of trucker ghosts. What's the deal here?"

They responded in a voice that sounded like the Vienna Boys Choir, if the Vienna Boys Choir were made up of adult ghosts. "We are the tormented spirits of meth addicts. The leaders of Clan Platypus on this planet searched far and wide to find those who were the most desperate, the most broken and the most addicted. They collected us together and took us to their underground base, deep beneath the Earth, where the dinosaurs roam free and the cheese fountains flow.

"At first, we thought we were the luckiest people in the world. Not only did we get to live with dinosaurs, which the ninjas had tamed and were using as beasts of burden, but Clan Platypus gave us all the meth we could use. It was heaven for a time. We would wake up in the afternoon, get spun on meth and then do whatever we took a mind to do.

"We built stuff, we cleaned, we collected things and we souped up the dinosaurs with blowers and slicks. And we listened to a whole lot of Skynard. But it was a lie, it was all a lie. The ninjas were just building our addiction to their horrible drug. Slowly, very slowly, they began to spread rumors that they were running out. We would receive less and less each day until, finally, we got none.

"It took mere hours for the withdrawal to kick in. We were shaky and itchy. By that time, it felt like ants had colonized under our skins, because the crystals had grown there. We scratched and scratched until the skin came off. Incidentally, this is how we learned we could feel pain again. We began to feel the throb of arms and legs we'd broken while doing our wild activities. The worst, though, was the emotional pain.

"Without the drug, our minds began working again. We started to see what animals we were becoming. We wondered aloud at some of the things we did, especially souping up those dinosaurs. Dinosaurs don't need giant, fat racing tires on them. They're animals, not cars. We also realized that our favorite music besides Skynard, which was mostly Kid Rock and Slipknot, totally, totally sucks. Strangely, Skynard still rocks pretty hard. We figure that's because they were making music before the drug became popular and they'd possessed that one thing that has become a detriment in modern music; talent.

"Then, just when we thought we were going to be clear of the drug, the ninjas brought more. We began to binge. We built and destroyed, built and destroyed. What we didn't notice is that they were keeping us off the drug longer and longer. When you're addicted, every day is much like the last. They just go by in gray blurs when you don't have the drug and in colored blurs when you do.

"Clan Platypus kept up this boom and bust cycle of meth of years. They were very scientific about it. They would dry us out before we did lethal damage to ourselves and they would deliver more drugs only after we were over the worst of the withdrawal. Finally, they cut us off entirely.

"At first, it was like every other time. We went through the withdrawal knowing that more drugs would be delivered to us soon, if we just stood it. But it was not to be. We waited and waited. A month passed. Then another month. Then a season. Then one day we woke up and found a year had passed since they took the meth away. Yet we were not clear of the itching, the hurting and the craving.

"Clan Platypus had induced in us a state of permanent withdrawal. We craved and craved, but the drug never came. We searched, we fought, we cried, but no drugs were to come. We became twisted and hateful inside. We all became extra destructive. Some of us destroyed things; tearing the tires of the dinosaurs, pulling down the dams on the cheese rivers that had been meticulously built out of toothpicks. Others destroyed other people, getting into fights that, more often than not, ended in murder. The rest of us destroyed ourselves.

"It didn't matter how it happened, or how long it took to break, all of us ended up dead in one way or another. And when we did, instead of the sweet release we were hoping for in death, we only got more slavery at the hands of Platypus.

"The Clan has a special council of 13 necromancers, consisting of the sons of the 13 top members. At first, the leadership didn't know what to do with their necromancers. Sure, they knew that their sons had gone off to Ninja college and gotten it into their heads that they were going to study Necromancy instead of something respectable like Disemboweling or even something practical like Camouflage Techniques. The leaders all thought their sons were just going through a phase and would eventually change their majors, but it was not to be.

"On the day the 13 sons graduated, the fathers finally accepted that they had necromancers in their ranks now. It was considered shameful at the time and many of the leaders attempted suicide before they had to show their hooded faces at the next ninja convention with a necromancer for a son. Two of them succeeded in their attempts, only to be revived by the very sons that gave them shame.

"It was this revival that made Clan Platypus reconsider. If the 13 sons could raise the dead, even after the dead had been eviscerated, beheaded and thrown in a volcano, then what else might be possible? They gave their sons free reign to experiment and develop their skills. We, the twisted souls you see before you, were one of their early projects. They purposefully corrupted our souls until our only outlet was death. Then, when we tried to die, they trapped our souls in glass bottles marked with two particular sigals; one that instructed us on what to do if ever we were released, and the other to continue to torture us. Then, they took those bottles and placed them strategically around the entrance to their underground volcano lair.

"Until today, we didn't know what our instructions would be. But then you and your group broke open our bottles and set us free. Many of us tried to flee, but the pain became too great. We were slowly pulled back to the corporeal sphere and we naturally formed into a dragon. Then, the hunger hit us. It was like the hunger each and every one of us died feeling towards meth. We had to feed, and so feed we did.

"But then you, Pat O'Neil, gave us the kick in the behind that we needed. Your scolding made us use our minds again. And your understanding has eased our suffering. You have set us free, good sir, and we shall always be indebted to you for that."

I was stunned. "Wow. That is some story, fellas," I said.

"It sure is," they responded. "You have two more questions to ask."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What to do with a Ghostly Dragon, Earli in the Mornin.

Sometimes, quick thinkin is gonna save your butt. Like if you get yourself into a contest with a one-eyed, bearded fella that shows up at your door and challenges ya to a thinkin quick contest in which he wants to wager a rump roast, but you don't have a rump roast, so you think he's likely to take your actual rump, because this guy looks like serious business and you think he might be cheatin ya because his two crows is outside cawin away and sayin crazy things like, "Nevermore!" On the other hand, there are prolly times quick thinkin could actually hurt you, like if you just decide to bake yourself a cake but you don't have any milk, so you decide you can prolly use whiskey instead and you don't wanna be bothered to slow down and consider how that's gonna work out (not well, if the first, and last, angel food cake I made was any indication). On the third hand, there's times you don't get the opportunity to do any thinkin whatsoever, like when you use a phrase like "on the third hand," or maybe when you're under so much stress it feels like your head's gonna crack open and butterflies are gonna fly out and have knife fights with one another. That's the kinda situation I found myself in.

I was backed up against the cliffs, my exo-suit had given out, the Deus Ex Machina turned out to be no help and, to top it all off, I realized Frank's birthday was comin right up and I didn't even know what she wanted. I'd tried to wing it the previous few years, but, on her last birthday, she made it pretty clear that if I bought her any more socks, I would leave her house with the socks in a place that would likely require medical intervention to remove. Even though I don't require much doctorin, I still like to think of myself as a patient man. But there, against them cliffs, I guess I'd had enough.

The dragon was comin straight at us, like an arrow fired from the bow of an Olympic champion and I just started yellin. "Hey! Hey! HEY!" I shouted. "Stop it! Just stop it! Just knock it off! I've had it up to here," I pointed at my eyebrows, "with you! You been flyin around here, roarin away like it was nobody's business, just cryin out at eatin people and I've had enough, buster!"

Shockingly, this worked. The dragon stopped in mid-roar, slumped a bit in the middle and hung it's head. Then it started cryin. It wasn't no single-teardrop-rollin-slowly-down-the-cheek kinda cryin, neither. This was full on, I'm-eight-and-I-just-fell-down-playin-and-skinned-my-knee-and-tore-my-brand-new-pants-that-I-was-fixin-on-wearin-the-next-day-at-school-and-I-think-pa's-gonna-whip-me, heavin, bawlin, givin-yourself-the-hiccups kinda cryin.

Alistair, wide eyed, looked at me and cocked his head towards the dragon. I sposed he was suggestin I go over there and do somethin. So I did.

I waled right up to that dragon, patted it a couple times on the back and said, "There, there." Mind you, this technique has never, ever worked for me. When I'd done it before, the people recievin the comfortin pat on the back and heartfelt "There, there," would look at me with a combination of disgust and hate in there eyes, shrug off my hand, and go back to their cryin, but at least I could tell myself I tried and feel ok about slippin out for a sandwich or a block of cheese. But this here dragon was full of surprises. My pattin seemed to calm it down a bit. The sobs dropped off, the wailin reduced from a fevered pitch to a low whinin sound, like Barry White tryin to imitate a puppy, and the hiccups came fewer and farther between.

When the sobbin was nearly gone, the dragon reached into a tiny pocket on its abdomen which I hadn't noticed, pulled out a small kleenex, blew its nose with enough force to knock over several beach bungalows, had there been any there.

Then it spoke. "Thank you," it said in a thousand voices at once, "for giving us a little comfort. That's all we really needed."

"You're welcome," I replied, not wantin to be rude. "You feelin better now, big guy?"

"Yes, thank you. You've done much to ease our suffering, Pat O'Neil. We will now allow you an audience with us. You may ask three questions and three questions only. Then, we shall disincorporate and journey to the land of the dead."

"I been there," I informed the dragon, "it ain't all it's made out to be."

"Is that so?" it asked.

"It is so," I confirmed. "Just a bunch of whiners down there. I'd suggest gettin yourself reincarnated pretty quickly, if y'all want to avoid hearin a lot of long, borin stories about people what has been dead a couple thousand years."

"We appreciate the advise."

"Ain't no thing."

"Now," non-sequitorized the dragon, "we shall show you our true form. Then, we shall hold court with you."

"All right," I drawled.

And that's just what happened. The dragon slowly disolved, breakin pieces of itself off left and right, like a twinkie in a glass of warm milk. Soon, we was surrounded by a semi circle of ghosts. They was a sorta translucent blue, glowin from an unknown source. Every single one of em was skinny as an Italian model gettin ready for Fashion Week. All of em was wearin trucker hats with slogans like "Git 'Er Done" on 'em, worn out jeans and t shirts with the arms cut off. The lady ghosts also had cut off the bottom half of their shirts, revealin sunken bellies and an assortment of tattoos featurin a great deal of roses and butterflies. I'd also estimate there wasn't but three teeth in the whole bunch. I guess I'd have to say that I wasn't ready for that. From the ghosts I seen on the teevee and in the movies and whatnot, I thought ghosts was supposed to be classy, or at least scary, these ghosts just made me a little sad. That wasn't the worst, though. The worst was that they stunk. I guess you never think about ghosts havin a smell, what with seein em in movies and all. But these here ghosts smelled like poo chili what has been left in the sun and covered in battery acid. I could hardly keep my eyes open from all the waterin they was doin.

I knew I had to act fast, before I rudely threw up all over the place. I'd already done it in my mouth a little bit, but I managed to cover it with a fake cough and then swallow that bile back down. Lookin behind me, I spotted the pile of silk what used to be my exo-suit. I slyly reached back there, grabbed a handful of the stuff and, pretendin like I was sneezin, jammed it up my nose.

"Subtle," said Alistair.

"But effective," I retorted.

"Now," announced the group of ghosts, "you may ask us three questions, and three questions only."

Alistair leaned over to whisper, "Make them good."

"OK," I said, takin a deep breath through my mouth, "here goes."

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Cliffs

I reckon I became aware of the cliffs quite a bit before I saw them. It was like when I awkwardly met someone I went to high school with in the middle of the Wal-Mart and we got to talkin about that girl that was always mean to everyone and I knew exactly what he's talkin about, but I couldn't remember her name. I could even remember when she laughed while her boyfriend shoved me into a locker which, and I don't think they knew this, had a broken lock, makin me think I was gonna be trapped in there till judgement day. But then I found that the back of the locker wasn't actually made of metal, but of plastic wrap loosely taped over a firey portal that led directly to the land of the dead which, all things considered, is better than a locker if you're trapped. So there I was, wanderin around the land of the dead, meetin the great heroes of old and they all kept tellin me how their accomplishments was greatly exaggerated and how all they really wanted was to set the record straight. The biggest whiner of all was this guy named Paris, but not named after the city because he was older than that. What he told me, and asked me to tell others if'n it ever came up, that he didn't actually want nothin to do with that Helen girl, but she kept goin on about how her husband was always with his concubines and she was so lonely and she was also a good knitter, so maybe she could go with him back to Ilium and maybe hang out for a bit and maybe make her husband appreciate how much she really meant to him. He also said to tell people that the whole thing with the golden apple and whatnot was a bunch of drivel. Honestly, I couldn't make heads or tails of what he was sayin, but I said I'd say somethin if I got the chance, and it looks like this here's my chance.

Course, that happened to me a whole bunch down in the land of the dead. All them poor people down there told me all about how their stories got all twisted up and how they really happened. If I get a little downtime some day here, maybe I'll tell ya one or two of them tales. What I really learned down there, though, is that dead people seriously need someone new to talk to. A lot of them old guys have been down there three or four thousand years. I guess they've got the option to leave any time they want and come on back to a body on Earth, but they've got to forget everything in order to do that and, this is just my opinion here, I don't think a lot of them guys spend so much time thinkin about themselves that they just wouldn't know how to forget. So, they just sit down there and wait for someone to talk to, to try and clear things up, as it were. When I finally got back to the locker, the door was open, but I'd seen horrible, horrible things. I was forever changed by my trip down there. Also, I'd missed math, and we had a quiz that day, which I failed due to an unexcused absence. If only I could remember to hold responsible for that...

Oh well, I guess I'll remember it sometime. It don't matter much right now, anyway, since I was tellin ya how I came up on them cliffs. They took up a place in my brain like that girl took up. I could sorta feel them there, but not know how big and terrible of a presence they would soon be in my life. I guess you never really stop to think about cliffs. What I meant to say there is, "I guess I never really stop to think about cliffs." For all I know, you could be one of them cliffologists, spendin your whole life researchin cliffs. If that's the case, and you've ever come up with a good way to confront a dragon with cliffs at your back, it'd be great if you could go back in time a little and let me know what that is, because apparently screaming is not the ideal solution. Mostly because it doesn't make the dragon stop, but also because it makes your throat hurt, and who wants to be eaten when they have a sore throat?

And then bad turned to worse. It started with a poppin. The poppin turned into a buzzin. Then, the whole thing up and turned into a cracklin. Finally, everything went silent, there was the slightest whiff of ozone, and my whole suit went to pieces. I ain't certain if the battery gave out, if there was a wirin problem, or if I'd just overloaded everything with all the activity I'd been doin. All I knew at that point that I was standin at the base of a line of black cliffs that would have been at home in Mordor in a pile of moon spider silk waitin for a ghost dragon to come and eat me.

In my most desperate moment, when all odds seemed against me and it looked like there was no way out, down came the Deus Ex Machina. The dragon seemed afraid of the space ship, because he pulled up short and started circlin like a shark tryin to look nonchalant. And I can't say I blame him. That there ship descended with such a clatter that I thought I may have to head up to the roof to see what was the matter. I can't say exactly what sound it was makin, but it was a lot like the time I washed and dried my overalls before checkin em and I realized during the spin cycle that I'd left a whole set of socket wrenches and scrap metal in the pocket.

The Deus was shootin flame here and there like an angry god, and looked like it was havin trouble stayin steady, like a drunk angry god. And then, it fell. That thing plummeted to the ground like a metal stone covered in lights and smoke. In the second before it became forever a part of the landscape, one last gout of flame shot out the bottom, slowing its decent enough that nothin shattered on impact.

Once it was settled and I'd got the dust wiped out of my eyes, I looked up to see Alistair comin out of the ship, coughin and flappin his wings.

He spotted me, too. "Pat!" he yelled. "We came to help."

"Oh yeah?" I shouted, "and how's that goin for ya?"

He came closer, so we didn't have to yell at each other. "As you can see, not well. Something's gone wrong with the Deus Ex Machina."

This was surprisin to me. "Didn't you guys build it so it would always work."

"We thought so," he admitted, "but I guess the Deus Ex Machina doesn't always work."

"What went wrong?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe it's been over used."

I raised an eyebrow. "You fellas ain't used it that much, as far as I know. How could it break down so fast. Did you get the parts from Pontiac or somethin?"

"Nothing like that," he said. "We've been loaning it out. I guess we shouldn't have done that."

"Loanin? Really? To who?"

"Well," he eyed the dragon, which was still circlin out over the plains, "tv and film producers, mostly."


"Oh yeah, they love the Deus Ex Machina. But I guess they've used it so much that it's become ineffective."

"That's a shame," I told him.

"It sure is," he agreed. "It's really a convenient way of solving things, maybe too convenient. It's just too bad that we've become so reliant on it that we expect it to always work."

"I guess you're right," I told him, not really knowin how much they really used the Deus Ex Machina. I figured, for it to have the problems it had, they prolly had to let every producer and writer in the world use it at some point or another. "But, if the Deus Ex Machina isn't workin, it's lookin like we're gonna have to find another way out of this whole dragon situation."

And I had to think of it fast, because that dragon had stopped his circlin and started roarin again.

Betty Millner! That was her name!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What's the Blue Light?

After eating Tom Cruise, that dragon rose into the sky, let out a roar like Thor farting and curled up. For a minute there, it looked like a question mark just hangin in the sky. It was a little like the bat-signal, but more like if The Riddler were bein called. I can't say I rightly know why anyone would be signalin the Riddler to come. Maybe they were stuck on a crossword clue or were bein terrorized by Will Shortz and the only one who could help them defeat the Puzzle Master is the Master of Puzzles. I guess it don't really matter much why someone would be callin the Riddler, just as long as you accept the possibility that a Riddler signal could exist and that this dragon looked like it would if it did.

The dragon didn't keep that shape too terribly long. It turned its red, hateful eyes on me and came bearin down. I ain't sure what normally goes through a person's mind when they're lookin down the business end of a dragon, but I would imagine the word "Oh" comes up as the first word in a lot of two word sentences one could think of in that situation. Me, I don't take much with the cursin and the foulmouthin that seems to be all the rage amongst the young people these days, so I ended my "Oh" sentence with "heckbucket!"

I think my mind must have gone totally blank then. Not to say that it takes a whole lot to make my mind totally blank. I imagine that, most of the time, I'm 99 percent there. If you want to get a picture of it, go ahead and pull yourself out a piece of printer paper. Now, put the tiniest x you possibly can in the center of the paper. That, right there, is what's goin on in my head at any given time. Now go ahead and erase that x. That's what was goin on in my mind as the dragon came down on me again. Now put the paper back in the copier before the boss comes by and fires you for wastin office supplies. It's got nothin to do with what was goin on in my mind, but I would sure hate to get you fired. Course, if you was worried about that, you would prolly not be readin this at work in the first place.

I'm just sayin that my mind musta went totally blank because, instead of teleportin outta there, as I really shoulda done, I dove to the ground, like I did back in the war when the Kaiser's biplanes was hurlin hot fire on us in the field. Unlike that time, though, I didn't wet myself. I musta dropped just in time, because, as I was layin there in the dirt, I felt a cold wind blow across my back, and heard tortured cried where my head used to be. When it was over, I looked up to see the dragon barrelin away, trailin somethin blue in its mouth. I traced that blue light down to the source and was more than a little surprised to find that it was me.

I felt around my clothes and body, but couldn't feel nothin super different. I mean, my heart hadn't stopped, I didn't feel suddenly cold, and I didn't find myself becomin a brainless servant of the ninjas. All in all, I thought I'd gotten away pretty clean. That is, until that there dragon turned in the sky again and came back on me.

That little x in the center of the printer paper came back, and I got some action goin on in my head. That action told me, "Pat, ol buddy, you better get your hide on outta here if you want to keep all your skin and bones together." My mind's led me wrong sometimes, like in the dark when I thought a rope was a snake and got scared by it, only to lose my ability to muster up the proper amount of scared when I discovered the snake was hidin behind the rope the whole time, resultin in an extended hospital stay. But this time, my mind was leadin me right. So, before the dragon could get up the momentum, I closed my eyes and thought of home.

On opening my eyes, I thought I might go into the kitchen and fix myself up a tuna melt, maybe have some ice tea to wash it down with. That would have been a lot better than fightin a dragon. Sadly, it was not to be. Something had gone terribly wrong. Instead of bein in my own livin room, I was still on that scorched plain with a ghost dragon tryin to kill me. Comparatively, I'd say havin a tuna melt is a much, much more desirable position than that which I found myself in. Say what you will about tuna melts, I'm confident any one of you would take one over bein eaten by a dragon. Admit it.

On the good side, I figured out that blue light drawn out of me was somethin related to my teleportin ability. But on the bad side, that blue light was my teleportin ability. Still thinkin I needed to get outta there, I did it the old fashioned way, I hoofed it.

I musta run a hundred miles, my lungs cursin me for my years installin fiberglass in the early 80s. I ran through plains and cities, rivers and deserts. Then I came up against the cliffs.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tom's Plan

"I ain't so sure this is gonna work," I told Tom as he loaded up the donut rail gun.

"It's always worked before," he reassured me.

I hate to be contrary, but I had to ask him, "Are you positive about that?"

"I sure am." He sounded pretty durned positive to me, but I come from a place where the closest you're gonna get to a straight answer is a shrug of the shoulders and a 'It could happen'.

"Let's just pretend I'm stupid here," I proposed. "Just explain this to me one more time."

"Fine," he sighed as he completed the loading. "We've loaded all your donuts with wadded up hundred dollar bills and set timers on them. When that dragon over there gets in range, you pelt him with your gun, the timers on all of the donuts explode inside the dragon and spray it with money. How much more simple could it be?"

"It's not really the mechanics of the plan I don't get. It's more the theory of it. I mean, I ain't never tried this or nothin and, well, you say 'shoot' and I'll shoot, but I don't understand how peltin a ghost dragon with hundred dollar bills is gonna do anything to it except let it buy a bunch of new stuff or go out for a fancy dinner."

"Look," he grabbed the bridge of his nose, "that dragon is made of ghosts, right?"


"And those ghosts are angry, right?"

"I'd say so."

"And we're on a planet that is alien, yes?"

"Got that right."

"So, you'd say they're angry alien ghosts?"

"I would."

"And Thetans are also angry alien ghosts."

"That's what you said."

"There we have it," he announced triumphantly. "The way to get rid of Thetans, as we all know, is to throw money at them. The more money you get rid of, the less of a Thetan problem you have. It's all in the book!"

"Oh, well, if it's in the book then..." I was about to say somethin sarcastic, but I was quite rudely interrupted by the ghost dragon bearin down on us like a back of hammers with a V8 engine drivin it. Next thing I knew, alls I could hear was the woosh of the rail gun and the pop-popin of the donuts explodin mid dragon. Well, that and the unearthly, Lovecraftian roar of a thousand tortured souls. And let me tell ya, it wasn't the "Oh, hey, that hurts so much that I should quite what I'm doin right now and retire to a life where I ain't terrorizin people and possibly eatin them" kinda roar. It was more like a, "you're tryin to stop me, but it's pretty ineffective and just makin me madder, so now I'm gonna devour you and take a thousand years to digest you, most of which will be painful" kinda roar. Sure, when you read the description, they seem completely unlike each other, but when you're standin there hearin it, it's a pretty subtle difference.

There was quite a bit of debate, after we'd teleported of course, about what went wrong with the plan. Mr. Cruise was convinced that the donuts weren't explodin exactly inside the dragon. I fiddled with my controls a bit and showed him the playback of the video my suit's always takin. Right there, in full HD color, on a frame by frame basis, we saw the donuts explodin exactly as they was intended to.

"I just don't understand," Tom said, holdin his head.

"Well, Mr. Cruise, I hate to burst your bubble here," and I did, I really did, "but I don't think you can get rid of angry alien ghosts just by throwin money at the problem."

"That can't be true," he said as he sat heavily on the ground. "I've thrown millions, literally millions of dollars at the Thetans. They all assured me that it was helping. Oh my god!" He began to weep. "I've wasted my life! To think, I could have spent all those millions tryin to help the poor. I could have fed millions of starving people the world over!"

"Don't feel so bad, Mr. Cruise," I comforted him, "you still have millions and millions of dollars. Plus, you can help this world now."

He stood up. "You know, Pat, you're right! I'm going to stop wasting myself on this alien ghost thing. I'm going to start living a new life. Heck," he scuffed the dirt here, "I may even let my wife leave the house once in awhile.

"Gosh," he sighed, "it feels so good to be free of that. It was such a burden for me to know that, if I just spent a little more money, I might become really happy. I feel like a new man! I'm going to shape up from now on. I'm going to be better, I'm going to be nicer and, most importantly, I'm going to be..."

And that's when the dragon ate him. One moment he was there, and the next there was this white streak, like I'd been slapped across the eyes by glowing cotton, and then he wasn't here any more. It's a shame, that, because he sounded like he'd really turned a corner. I don't know how to break the news to his wife. But I'm sure when she hears it, she's gonna need herself some consolin. She may need a strong shoulder to lean on and maybe even a beard to cry into. Then, to recover, she's gonna need a lot of love. A lot of sweet, sweet O'Neil love.

Course, all that was gonna have to wait until after I got rid of the dragon.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tom and the Dragon

Once Mr. Cruise announced he was ready to go, it was a pretty easy thing to grab him and teleport back to meth world. The second his feet touched the ground, his eyes got real big, like a fly that was strainin real hard to see in the dark.

Then he started mutterin somethin like, "This is, like, pheeeeeew. Woah. I mean, it's, whoop whoop!" This last came out soundin like a crane was matin with a siren, fixin to have itself a couple little babies with long necks and rotatin heads. Honestly, I wasn't even real sure what he said was English, or any language for that matter. For a minute there, I thought I'd broke him. I figured I better cover my bases, so I started comin up with my excuse for what to tell his wife. I settled on tellin her that, when he was runnin in slow motion in the rain, I saw him slip and go over on his head. He got up and kept runnin, so I didn't think nothin of it, but, gee, Mrs. Cruise, it ain't like I'm a doctor who can diagnose a concussion super quick...I'll just be goin then.

But before I could think about makin my grand exit, which was gonna involve smoke bombs and flash pots and a daring helicopter rescue, Mr. Cruise started rootin around in his bag like he was a fat kid and the last slice of cake on earth was in the bottom, mutterin to himself the whole time. He got himself almost halfway into the bag, and I was thinkin he was about to crawl in there and set up camp when he pulled his hand out triumphantly and yelled, "Here it is!"

He held up that grey machine I saw earlier with the two paddles attached and handed it to me. "Here, hold this," he said.

I grabbed ahold of the machine, letting the paddles dangle down. I wasn't quite sure what the thing was. It had a couple switches and knobs, along with one big gauge in the middle. It looked like somethin you'd use in a mechanic's shop to test alternator charge or somethin similar, but I couldn't see any clips on it anywhere.

"No, not like that," he yelled. "Grab the handles."

He took the box away from me and stuck the paddles into my hand. "Yeah, like that," he nodded. Then he started playin with all them knobs and switches; a turn here, a flip there. You ever see that old Frankenstein movie? The one in black and white where the old doctor guy is about to bring his offense to nature back from the cold, dark hand of death? And he's runnin around turnin stuff here and flippin stuff there and yellin at that poor hunchback for bein scared of lightnin that's shootin out all over everywhere. It was a lot like that, except there weren't no hunchback. I mean, sure I may not have the best posture sometimes, but I ain't about to take a job ringin a bell and yellin "Salvation!"

I didn't know what all this twiddlin was doin, and I kept glancin nervously at the sky. I didn't see that ghost dragon nowhere, but, bein both a ghost and a dragon, I assume it was downright mobile, so it could really have shown up any time. I don't wanna sound like I was thinkin Tom Cruise, of all people, would exaggerate his ability to fight angry alien ghosts, but I was hopin he'd get to it before that dragon got back and made us all shuffle of this mortal coil, if you know what I'm gettin at. Thus far, though, it seemed like his entire ghost fightin thing consisted of twistin knobs, noddin slowly and sayin hmmm about a dozen times.

"Ok," he mumbled, as I saw the form of the ghost dragon rise above the horizon. "I think I see what your problem is."

"Is that so?" I asked, wonderin how he saw the problem when the problem was comin up fast behind him.

"It sure is. You see, your thetan levels are far too high."

"Thetans?" I wasn't seein this connection.

"Yeah, the angry alien ghosts!" He explained it like I was in kindergarten again. "They got trapped in a volcano when they were frozen and now they're angry and getting inside of you and making you sad. Don't you know anything about Scientology?!"

"I guess not as much as I shoul."

"Darn straight! Let me ask you, Pat, do you ever feel nervous?"

"Well, sure," I told him. "I'm feelin pretty nervous right now on account of..."

"Thetans!" he interrupted.

"Actually," I corrected him, "I was gonna say, 'on account of the big dragon comin to make us dead.' But, hey, you got your thing, I got mine."

"The dra..wha?" He turned and looked over his shoulder.

I dunno how most people would react when they turned around to see a pure white dragon what looked like it was lit from the inside by the anger of a million tortured souls and said dragon was snakin its way up on them like a bus made out of jello, and not the kind of jello filled with pineapple and bananas, either, but the kind that's filled with sadness. You know, the sugar free kind.

On the other hand, I do know how Tom Cruise reacts in that situation. He tends to jump backwards, spread his arms out wide and yell, "WHOA! WHOA!" Then he turns to someone standin there (in this case, it just happened to be me), stare at them wild-eyed and yell, "WHAT IN CRIMENY IS THAT?!?!"

To which I responded, "That's the dragon I been tellin you about. You know, the one made of angry alien ghosts. You may want to grab onto me." I said this last part because the dragon was now mere feet away, comin up on us like a roaring subway train. I could see down its maw, making out the elongated, screaming faces of the souls which made it up. Also, I could see it had chili for dinner.

Tom did as I suggested and grabbed the arm of my exo-suit and I teleported us a few miles away, figurin that would give us a bit of time.

As soon as we were in our new position, Mr. Cruise bent over and threw up. He also had chili for lunch. "Ok," Tom panted, wiping his mouth, "ok. Get ahold of yourself, Tommy boy. You can do this. You can do this."

I scanned the sky while he pulled himself together. "Ok," he said, sitting up. "I'm ok. We need a plan."

"We sure do!" I agreed, seeing the light from the dragon begin to ripple again on the horizon.

"Is that a rail gun you've got mounted to your suit?"

"Yeah," I nodded, "it sure is. It only shoots donuts, though."

"Regular or filled?" He asked, becoming animated again.

"Filled," I said, "some with poison and others with strawberry and some with I don't really know what. I just put the thing on."

"That's fine," he was practically jumping by this time. "That's exactly what we need."

He went diggin in his bag again. "I'm going to need your help preparing this."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tom's House

I imagine most people, when faced with a stranger in their house, is likely to panic. I ain't never really had that happen to me, but there've been a couple times Douggy was in the dog house with his ol' lady and was sleepin on my couch where I heard him snorin in the middle of the night and darn near shot him. I ain't proud of it, but you get used to livin by yourself after awhile and, when you get to my age, you're likely to wake up confused every once in awhile, maybe thinkin you're back in that hotel in San Fran on that wonderful night in '69, with Becky Clodderingly still curled up next to you and a motorcycle rally goin on outside. But then, you get mighty disappointed to find out that you've really just got Albert next to ya and Douggy snorin loud enough that Helen Keller would complain in the next room. So I could understand a little panic upon discoverin there's a man in a giant spider silk suit that has suddenly appeared in the middle of your room.

But not that Tom Cruise, boy. That man is a class act all the way. He acted like he seen that sorta thing happen every day. Just sat back on his giant white couch in the shape of a snake eating a polar bear, greeted me and then asked if I preferred coffee or tea, just as casual as you like. It wasn't until after we'd had some refreshment that he asked me who I was and what I was doing in his livin room. It was downright Homeric, if you ask me.

I explained the situation to him, as best as I could without understanding the real nature of the dragon. I guess it didn't matter too much to him where the dragon came from or what kind of crazy dark magic it was a product of. The only thing he really seemed to focus on was the fact that there was angry alien ghosts attackin a bunch of people and makin em all crazy and whatnot. In fact, he got so excited about that part that he got to jumpin up and down on his couch and whoopin it up like he had ants in his pants and was pretty durned delighted about it.

He agreed to go with me back to the meth world but said he needed to get ready first. He ran around the living room grabbing things and shovin em into a satchel. I ain't sure I saw everything he was plannin on bringin with him, but I saw him grab a machine of some sort with paddles connected to it, a wad of cash and a book by some old sci-fi author. I didn't get a good look at the book, but I know it wasn't Asimov and, when it comes to sci-fi, if it ain't Asimov, I just ain't interested.

Once he had that bag packed, I thought he was right ready to go, and started to get up, but he waved me back down sayin he had "just one more small thing to do." Then he walked over to this control panel in the wall, hit a couple buttons and went out the back yard to this runnin track he had there. As I watched, it started rainin back there. At first, I was thinkin Tom Cruise was magic and had control over the elements, which wouldn't surprise me none. Ain't no one can look like him and divorce a woman as hot as Nichole Kidmann unless there's some sorta black magic involved. But, upon further inspection, it turned out that he just had some sprinklers installed on his roof that would spray water over the track while he ran around it.

I musta been standin there, just watchin him run in the rain, for about five minutes when his wife walked in.

"Is he running in the rain again?" she asked, exasperated.

"It would appear so, ma'am," I confirmed. "But I can't make hide nor hair of it. What's he doin that for."

She shrugged. "Damned if I know. But he always runs in the rain before doing something important."

She turned to go. "Ma'am," I said. "I sure did like them movies and shows you did."

"Thanks," she said.

I went on, "You ain't done that many since you been with this guy..."

"That's true," she said. "Sometimes, I wish I still did. But something's stopping me."

"Oh yeah? And what might that be?"

She shrugged again. "Dunno. Maybe it's black magic." And then she wandered into another room.

Right after that, Tom came in and toweled off. "All right," he said, vigorously drying his hair, "let's do something about this ghost dragon of yours."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ghost Dragons Are No Fun

I know I spend a good deal of time tellin y'all about what I don't know. And it ain't just false modesty or nothin like that. What can I say? I'm just plum ignint. At least when I report the sciency stuff that's goin on, I get to use the words of the Squimonk, who seem a lot less ignint than me. Either that, or their masters of BS. I vote it's a little of both.

I'm just tellin y'all this so that it don't come as a shock to you when I tell you, in all honesty, if I were to put together a list of all the things I didn't know nothin about, I'm pretty sure magic would be right near the top. It wouldn't be at the top; women always have and always will have that space atop every man's list. I ain't even sure what would be in the top ten, but I'm pretty certain magic wouldn't be in there. I think it'd be somewhere in the teens, in that gray area of things where I know they seem to exist and some people think they're real, but they could be completely made up and fake; like consciousness or pro wrasslin.

I seen magicians on the teevee and stuff like that. I one time saw a guy make the entire Statue of Liberty disappear. That's back when magicians was concerned with doin big, showy illusions. It ain't like the magic special of today. Really, if bein cold for two weeks was magic, everyone in Iowa shoulda gotten their memberships to the magician's club a few decades ago.

But that ain't really here or there. Point is, I ain't know nothin about no magic. So, when I see a dragon made of angry ghosts burst out of the sky of an alien planet, I don't form me a plan right away. All I can say, and this is universal for all Pats, mind, is, "This ain't gonna be good." I know it's universal for all Pats because I heard us all say it at once.

And you know, as much as it feels good to be right about somethin, no matter how small, every once in awhile, it feels a lot less good when what you're right about turns out to be a ghost dragon swoopin out of the sky, scoopin you up in its maw, which is full of the screams of the torture souls which comprise this unearthly creature, and poop you out into a free fall where you ain't got nothin but your super hardened exosuit and your ability to teleport to save you. The most important question, when you find yourself in a situation like that, isn't "Oh dear lord, what's happening?" Nor is it, "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! What do I do?" Nah, the most important question, when you get over your panic, is where to teleport to.

It wasn't the right time for a vacation, and the unicorns was still a little sore at the damage I'd done to their hotel, so Maui was out. I wasn't quite ready to go home yet, and I didn't want to risk materializing in the middle of the shop and risking destroying all my precious, precious donuts, not to mention the possibility of squishing Jared when I landed.

As I fell, I tried going over my options. Here I was, falling towards a foreign world, being attacked by angry ghosts. Hmmm, angry alien ghosts. Who knows how to get rid of angry alien ghosts?

And that's how I found myself in Tom Cruise' house.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Boy howdy, but fightin these ninjas ain't no stroll in the park. Like most red-blooded American boys, I used to gather around the teevee of a Sunday night and watch the MATV (that's Martial Arts TeeVee) Ninja Movie of the Week. I even had me an official Ninja Fighter Code Ring which, even though it seems kinda laughable now, I got after savin up 50 boxtops from eatin my Anti-Ninja Ohs. I didn't even like them things, but my ma whipped me with a switch when she caught me feedin them to the dog. My thinkin went along the lines of "if it looks like dog food and it smells like dog food, then it must be allright to feed to the dog", but my mother disagreed with that, thinkin more along the lines of "if it looks like dog food and it smells like dog food, but costs a dollar a box, it must be for my son to eat if he knows what's good for him." I tell ya, I learned right quick what was good for me.

Course, my cereal preferences ain't neither here nor there when it comes to fightin these here ninjas. The point is that, despite my growin up surrounded by a buncha ninja related stuff, I had this whole big romantic notion that, when you fought ninjas, they'd just stand in a line and take slow, easily dodgable punches at you. The reality ain't nothin like that, though. First, they will all attack you at once. They got no sportsmanship whatsoever. Second, their punches are wicked fast, and usually aimed directly at areas that you need to see or breathe or reproduce. I tell ya, if it weren't for my exo-suit, I woulda ended the fight lookin like a burlap sack full of puppies and strawberry jelly that's been thrown from the Empire State Building.

Instead, I ended the first part of the operation in relatively good shape. I was sorer than a pig taken outta the mud, but I figured I could slap some Hotty Ice on myself later on and then relax for the weekend. For the time being, however, I just had to push on through the pain and take out the upper echelons which was hidin under the biggest volcano on the planet.

The whole thing was supposed to be a bit like a rabbit hunt. The Magma giants was to sink into the volcano, raisin the temperature to the point that the Ikea base inside would melt, flushin out all the remainin ninjas. We Pats would just wait outside and pepper the ninjas with our donut rail guns as they came out. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, right?

You know how these things go, though. The Magma giants sank into the center of the volcano and a couple of ninjas came runnin out, so there I was thinkin that, just this once, everything's gonna go accordin to plan. But then, there was a howl like it's the mornin after the Fenris wolf swallows the sun and now he realizes he's gonna have to do the other half that comes with eatin, and the entire volcano shattered in a sea of sparks like the Death Star goin up (in the original endin, not that washed out "let's add a ring of blue fire for no reason" endin).

The next thing I knew, I was layin on my back, watchin a sky full of tormented spirits churn to life, the mouths of the spirits distendin in a wail of infinite torment as they zoomed in and out of the black soot covering the sky. They began to turn in a circle; slowly at first, but faster and faster as the spiral of sufferin spirits began to collapse on itself. That circle got smaller and smaller, suckin up all them spirits into a point no bigger than the tip of a freshly sharpened pencil. For a fraction of a second, it hung in the sky like the North Star leadin the three wise men through the desert.

Then it exploded.

I may be a gentleman of a certain age, but I wasn't present at the big bang, so it ain't like I'm speakin from experience, but I imagine it was somethin a lot like when this little point of light blew out. Us Pats were scattered willy nilly like confetti at a windy Times Square New Years. And it was loud enough that it drove me past deaf and into the negative hearing range, where you can hear everything, but it's all backwards and you start to forget stuff you've heard in the past.

I think that's prolly why I didn't recognize the call of the ghost dragon when I heard it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How to Fight Ninjas

Here's the thing about big plans, especially big plans created by a bunch of copies of yourself and some uppity mutants, they don't always go as you'd expect. I ain't tryin to say you shouldn't be makin big plans or nothin, only that you need to have all the information for jumpin willy nilly around the universe and tryin to punch giant ninja-bots in their faces while tryin not to get killed. I guess I got through it allright. I didn't lose an eye or nothin, so accordin to my ma, it was still fun n' games. It didn't seem like fun at the time, but I been told that we'll all look back fondly on this day. I ain't sure I buy it, but I nodded and smiled anyway.

Let me tell ya, fightin a whole planet full of ninjas while tryin not to harm their meth zombie army just ain't an easy job. While I was out there, punchin ninja robots, tearin out robot innards, zappin here and there, takin the occasional vacation and tryin not to get my own head torn off in the process, I was thinkin that I coulda used some ninja fightin advice before I got all wrapped up in this. That got me wonderin why I had to take all them classes in school about math and biology and whatever, but I never got a useful class like "How to Fight Ninjas" or "How to Pilot an Exoskeleton" or "Astrophysics". It just don't seem right.

So here's the thing. I know my name's in the title of this here blog and my ugly mug's all over the front page and I am the main character of this story and it all seems to be about me, but for today, I'm gonna give somethin back. I know when celebrities say that sorta thing, it usually means they're gonna donate a fiver to the local soup shelter or adopt a kid from some far away place. We all know that ain't really givin most of us anything useful. But Pat wouldn't play games like that. No way. Your ol' pal Pat O'Neil is gonna give you some advice for fightin ninjas that you can use if you're ever in this situation. You can thank me when this saves your butt from the robot ninjas.

First, don't aim for the head. I know, I know. I said I was gonna punch some ninjas right in their stupid ninja faces, but it turns out I was wrong. You see, the ninjas, despite bein evil, ain't dumb. They know that an enemy's first thought is gonna be to punch for the face, so they don't put nothin important in the head area. In fact, they don't make the head themselves at all. They outsource the whole head producin industry to China. It saves them money and it has the added benefit that the heads are filled with and entirely made out of deadly, deadly poison.

Second, if you do happen to punch for the face and it caves in, covering you with deadly, deadly poison, don't panic. Most importantly, don't start flailin your exosuit's hand, which is still connected to the ninja head, all over the place yellin "Get it off me!" This is because, in your flailin, you may just shoot that head straight off your arm, right through the ninja robot (which ain't so bad), and into a whole crowd of meth zombies watchin robot bears fightin real bears. Let me tell ya, strictly as a side note, them meth zombies love their "robobear vs. real bear" matches. They love them so much that, if they are interrupted, they will become real angry, jump into all manner of '70s muscle cars, crank up the Skynard, and come chasin after you like there's no tomorrow.

Third, if you're ever bein chased by a group of meth zombies in muscle cars, watch out for collapsed ninja bodies. They are likely to be right behind you and you can trip on them when you turn to run.

Fourth, if you're fallin after trippin on a collapsed robo-ninja, whatever you do, don't think about unicorns. I cannot stress this enough. Unicorns become angry when you pop into the lobby of their Maui hotel in an exosuit and you put cracks in the foyer. They will make you fix the whole building before you are allowed to return to the fight.

When you are allowed back to the fight, after fixin the hotel and doin some other odd jobs around the hotel grounds because you feel bad, make sure you start aimin for the ninja torsos. If you swing right and you're angry enough, you can punch clean through a robo ninja, disabling it in one shot.

Finally, try to disable the roboninjas in a line, instead of in a circle. Sure, it looks pretty tough to be surrounded by a wall of your defeated enemies, but it's kind of a pain climbing up out of that ring when it's piled over your head. And don't even think about pushing it over. Them robots is heavier than a hippo eating bricks. I swear, they must make them things out of pure iron or somethin.

So, now you know some of the do's and do not's of fightin robot ninjas. You just keep this all in mind if you're ever in this situation. And, when you're done, sit back, relax and have yourself a cup of coffee and a donut. Oh, and brace yourself to join up with the other exo-skeletal-Pats to fight the final holdouts.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The plan

I ain't sayin y'all are ever gonna do this, but if you was ever plannin on invadin a planet where everyone's hopped up on free meth that's bein handed out like it was whacky candy from giant robot ninjas piloted by, I assume, smaller, non-robotic ninjas inside, then you could do worse than have a bajilllion copies of yourself and your friends.

"But wait," you may be sayin, "even if I did have all them copies, how would I be able to defeat giant robot ninjas? I am, after all, just one, small, fragile being in this giant universe and I think my whole role in fighting a giant ninja robot would be to end up as goo between the toe slit in the robot's ninja shoe."

At least, you'd be sayin that if you was me. Of course, if you was me, then you would know all about what I'm fixin to say here, and it would ruin all the fun of readin this in the first place. Also, you would be have really bad heartburn most of the time and you would think that you should go see the doctor about it and, well, you would if this whole ninja fightin job came with insurance, but it don't and you really ain't got the time to head down to the free clinic because, again, the whole fightin ninjas thing. So, let's just go ahead and say you ain't me for the sake of argument and I'll go ahead and explain you a thing or two about the invasion of planet meth.

First of all, you was right before. If a human was to fight a giant robot ninja, it prolly wouldn't go too well for that human. To remedy this situation, you might need you an exoskeleton or three. Or maybe you need one for each Pat in the army.

"But, hold on a minute," you're sayin now, "if you was to be trapped in a robot exoskeleton, how would you be able to use your teleportation thing you been harpin on all this time. And, while we're on the subject, can you teleport anymore after drinkin that green skull drink those ninjas fed you in Maui. Also, why the heck didn't they just poison you? I mean, they are ninjas, after all, it ain't like they're known for bein nice."

And my response is, first, don't get your panties all wadded into a bunch. That ain't got a lot to do with ninjas, but I find it's usually good advice for the prevention of discomfort, both now, when you gotta be sittin there and readin, and later, when you're doin your laundry. Second, calm down. We'll take these questions in order. The exoskeletons have been carefully and painstakingly crafted by the Squimonk out of moon spider webbing that is kept rigid by running a little bit of current through it. That current also has the benefit of giving us a super charged punch. Next, the Squimonk were nice enough to give me an anti-anti-teleporting-serum serum. And last, I don't have a clue why they didn't just poison me and I don't much appreciate you bringing up my potential imminent demise and reminding me that death is a shadowy figure constantly looming over our shoulders and driving us near to madness in the deep of the night when we got nothin but our regrets to keep us company until the birds start singin again in the dawn, Mister or Missus Macabre.

Now, at this point, you may be thinkin that your ol' pal Pat's got himself enough to just blip on down to the planet, plant his exoskeletal fist in a couple ninja faces, dust off his hands and call it a day. But you would be wrong. We ain't just tryin to defeat the ninjas, we're tryin to wipe them off the planet so our fleet of drug counselors can swoop down and start the rehabilitation process. And them ninjas have had themselves a goodly number of years to dig into their positions and so we gotta plan for the unexpected. So we also need us a whole mess of them Magma Giants to hit the planet with us and sling fire wherever they're needed. We especially need them to hit up all the volcanoes on the planet to take out any bases that might have been place there. We want, according to the Magma Giants, all their base to are belong to us, whatever the heck that's supposed to mean.

Finally, we gotta remember the most important thing about fightin Clan Platypus. They're friggin ninjas! They've had themselves all sortsa trainin in jumpin around and punchin and throwin things and whackin people and things with sticks. Me, I got into a fight once in eighth grade and fought some robot ninjas that Lindbergh sent after me earlier this year. I ain't sayin I can't handle it or nothin, I'm just sayin it's gotta be accounted for. And the best way to make up for a lack of martial arts training, in my opinion, is overwhelming firepower. In this case, it is provided by a donut rail gun mounted over each shoulder of the exoskeleton.

This fine piece of equipment had been adapted by the Squimonk from the ten different worlds on which we Pats had to recover the slugs from the 99 cent store. They took the original donut gun model and modernized it, addin all sortsa doohickies and geegaws and sciency stuff to it. Then, they made themselves a whole mess of donuts that they made superhard by keepin them out in the cold, lonely darkness of space for a couple months. When fired from the donut rail gin, which uses some sorta magnet technology, they can be fired at three times the speed of sound and can tear right through a robot ninja like a stick of butter bein hit by a speeding sun.

All of this was bein explained to me in a bit of a hurry, so forgive me if I've forgotten anything here. The long and short is, I found myself strapped into a suit of body armor and sweatin like a fat man at the summer cake giveaway as I was showed a map of where exactly I was supposed to land and punch a ninja right in his roboty face before he knew what was happenin. It was right amazing how coordinated it all was, but I didn't have much time to consider it because, right as I was thinkin about it, the countdown hit the bottom.

3...2...1...I jumped.